Launch of Waiting Well Project

19th April 2022

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As Helpforce launches its Waiting Well project, Helpforce’s Director of Volunteering, Maeve Hully, explains how volunteers can support those waiting for treatment.

There are currently 6.07m people on a waiting list for hospital treatment and 310,813 of those have been waiting over a year for planned hospital care. Individual waiting times consistently fall short of the Government's own targets for care. Behind every statistic are people whose real challenges should not be overlooked

Coupled with long standing workforce issues there is a perfect storm occurring which will result in increasing numbers of people who will see an irreversible decline in their health and wellbeing.

Addressing the complex reasons for this is not straightforward. If there was an easy answer the waiting times would already be starting to fall. The solution will require the combined efforts of populations to work together with responsibility being shared and managed.

Helpforce is working with NHS organisations to ensure that the contribution of volunteers is a part of this solution. During the pandemic volunteers were mobilised across the UK to bridge the gap that existed as healthcare professionals struggled with huge numbers of people needing care. The response both in terms of numbers and valuable volunteer support was fantastic. There are a wide range of volunteer roles available to make a huge impact in hospitals and communities throughout the UK; from vaccination centres, to home medicine support, volunteers were trained and available at short notice and quickly became an essential part of the country’s response to the situation that unfolded during the pandemic. Yet volunteering isn’t being fully integrated in anywhere near enough settings. This is a major missed opportunity.

Alongside medical staff, volunteers can also be part of the elective recovery plans of the NHS. People who are waiting for care can be supported by volunteers in a range of ways:


There are a number of key roles that volunteers could do which will improve the communication, reduce the numbers of cancelled appointments and surgeries as well as support people to be in optimum health, reducing the risk of longer hospital stays and episodes of care.


We have witnessed the huge power of volunteering throughout the pandemic, now we must unlock that power to combat the challenges ahead.

“Since the start of the Dining Companion project our ward has benefited immensely. The morale on the ward has increased, staff are happier and less stressed. The volunteers are treated as part of the team and have become respected team members.” - Ward Manager, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

Today, Helpforce is launching its Waiting Well project and we are looking for partners who:

  • Want to pilot a volunteer service that supports patients on waiting lists

  • Already have a volunteering project supporting waiting lists that you would like evaluated

  • Have more ideas around how volunteers can support patients on waiting lists

We know the power of volunteering can help the UK get back to health more quickly.

For more information, contact Maeve Hully at Helpforce: